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I finally got my first three fish yesterday, up on the Taylor River. They were all shakers, only about 4 inches long, but it was still exciting! Being my first fish, they were also my first experience handling and releasing fish. I was relieved that the first one shook himself off as I was trying to grab him. The second one hung on though, and I had to figure out how to get him off the hook. It took a while before I got it, but as I was gently pulling and twisting with no luck, I was wondering if there was a better way? I had a hard time pulling with any force because the little guy seemed so small and fragile. Is there a reliable way to get the little ones off without damaging them?

OK, I found were the little fish live. Does that mean the adults are in the same piece of water, or should I expect them to be somewhere else?
 

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The best way to release all fish, in my view, is with a pair of forcepts (Cabelas or any fly shop). Like a doctor, stick these in the mouth and grap and lock onto the fly. Your hook should be barbless and the fish will just fall off if you hold the fly with the point down. Now you have not touched the fish in any way, his innards are not crunched, and his slime is intact. If you brought the fish to the forcepts as quickly as possible, there shouold be little or no mortality. Clamp the forcepts back on to your vest and put on a big smile, knowing that you did it right.
Also, if you keep getting little guys, you are probably taking smolt. Not a good idea. Don't target smolt if you can help it. Whether there are bigger fish around or not is anybodies guess. But please respect the smolt, knowing that one day, hopefully, they will return as some sort of giant fish.
Bob:thumb
 

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The taylor is trib of the MF snoqualmie. The little fish were probably average size fish for that stretch of river. They could someday grow up to be 10inchers though :) As for the bigger ones, you just have to keep looking. Also give some streamers a shot. Black woolly buggers will also work well on the snoqualmie forks and tribs. On something as small as the taylor, the bigger fish are likely going to be found in the deeper runs and pools. And if the spot you are fishing is easy to get to or close to the camp sites, then the chances of finding many bigger fish are really slim. If you read my post where I mentioned 'picking pockets' - well, the taylor has some nice stretches where you can apply that dropper technique and find lot of fish hiding in that pocket water / boulder fields.

As for releasing then, forcepts or evel small needle nose pliers work great. Bob gave some great advice. Barbless hooks are not only required up there, but also make releaseing hooks from fish, fingers, and clothing much easier. No matter what too you have, try to keep the fish in the water as much as you can. Don't squeeze. The key is to get a grip on the bend of the hook. Then a gentle twisting motion that backs out the hook is all that is needed. If the hook is taken deep, this is much harder and forcepts really help out. It takes a little practice, but the quicker you can do this the better. A lot of new guys clamp on the hook, but it takes several seconds for them to get the hook out. If the fish starts thrashing - and they will... - you can cause some serious damage if you have a death grip on the hook and the fish rips the wound wide open. This may sound silly, but you could practice with something - maybe and banana. Insert fly hook, use tool to grab bend, twist your wrist so the hook is back out quickly. Should be able to do it in a split second without even touching the banana or whatever...
 

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No smolts above the impassable Snoqualmie Falls. These are probably distant relatives of fish last planted in the 70's but they are now just as wild and beautiful as any others and should be treated like the jewels they are.

Randy


" When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee" Isaiah 43:2
 
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